Nigeria’s Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited, (SAHCOL) said that it had increased its market share in the nation’s cargo handling business from 21 per cent to 48 per cent within nine years.

The Acting Managing Director of the company, Basil Agboarumi, disclosed at a Gateway Forum organized by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents in Lagos that SAHCOL was able to enhance its operations through deployment of quality equipment and training of its staff.

To sustain the company’s growth trajectory, he said that the company would focus on its culture of staff training, get modern and state-of-the-art equipment into the system, and step up its services to close existing gaps.

“For companies to do business with you they would have checked your books and they know you have the capacity and the technical know-how to give them the services they require.

“It doesn’t mean that because of this, we have allowed the price to enter us. We still need opportunities to do better. We know we are growing and closing the gaps.

“For example, before SAHCOL was privatised in 2009, we maintained about 21 per cent of the market share, but today to the glory of God, we have grown to about 48 per cent, and we are not stopping there, we are still growing”, Agboarumi added.

The industry top player identified existing imbalance in tariffs and other charges ground handlers pay for any imported equipment as one of the challenges militating against improved performance of cargo handling companies in the country.

In addition, he noted that handling rates for passengers, cargo, and other equipment were being tampered with by the airlines thereby making profitability difficult for operators.

He said thar such rates were determined by the type of aircraft (big or small), the destination, and the ticket price for each passenger, alleging that sometimes the airlines manipulate the rates and pay low even when the service rendered them requires more.

To correct these abuses, the SAHCOL boss called for the intervention of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with a view to creating an even business relationship between the airlines and the ground handlers.

“The handling rates we pay in Nigeria have not changed over the years despite the fall in naira to dollars and other major currencies. The airlines have consistently changed their fares, but we have not done that for so many years. We still operate with the same tariff that we have been operating up to the time naira was N165 to a dollar.

“Regrettably, today, the rate has grown more than double. What it costs us to buy a ground handling equipment today has grown astronomically. It is not that the cost has changed in places where we purchase that equipment, but whereby we were spending one naira to buy a ground handling equipment before, by the time we source for foreign exchange, you will see that it has gone to about three naira.

“That’s the situation we have found ourselves. But, the airlines still pay the same amount of money they have been paying us even before then”, Agboarumi claimed.

On how much the company would require in executing its projects, he explained that the company has a budget proposal and was waiting for approval of the Board of Directors.

“We have submitted our proposals to the board of directors, and until they sit, we can’t know what they will approve,” he said.

He, however, assured of the company’s teamwork towards ensuring its success under his watch, as the Acting Managing Director.

“One thing I can tell you now is that we are a very solid team, driving the affairs of SAHCOL. We are trying to build people together, consolidate on the company we have now and become better. That is exactly what we are doing and that is our focus and we are not distracted by it because we are pushing it.

“We are building a company whereby people that have the right ideas are allowed to express themselves without shutting them down. We know we have the best of minds in the industry, and we are tapping into those talents to build a global company,” he said.